Brisbane is one of the oldest cities in all of Australia, having been originally settled on traditional lands of the Turrbal Aboriginal tribe.
The city of Brisbane stands as Australia’s third-largest city and is the capital of the state of Queensland. Brisbane, like much of Australia, has a complicated history with its ties to penal colonies and European settlement.
But today, it is one of the most diverse cities in Australia with thirty-two percent of its population being foreign-born. Brisbane has grown into a cultural powerhouse, with people visiting from all over the world every year.
Brisbane is full of amazing sights and sounds just waiting to be explored. It is also home to some amazing experiences that you can’t find anywhere else.
A great day outside the city is often just an hour or two away, transporting you to a whole new world you might even have known existed.
If you are looking for cheap accommodation in Brisbane or 5-star Hotels, please check our guide.
Let’s see some of the best day trips you can take from Brisbane.
Ipswich is renowned for its cultural, architectural, and natural heritage with over 6,000 heritage-listed sites. The town was originally settled by Europeans in 1827 as a mining town and mushroomed into a large inland port.
The city has continued to grow and develop over the years while keeping much of its history preserved and alive.
If you have your own vehicle, Ipswich is a short thirty-minute trip down the road from Brisbane. There is also a bus, which will take you about forty-five minutes, and the most scenic route, a train that takes an hour.
Some of the best things to do and see in Ipswich are:
- Pterodactyl Helicopters – Take a whirlwind tour of the area from the sky, learning about the area’s history as you soar with the birds. You can even partake in a pub crawl by helicopter or winery tour, flying between locations like a rockstar.
- Top of the Town – This is the perfect stop for any shopaholics. Originally opened in 1877 this market offers cafes, vintage shops, boutiques for you to browse to your heart’s content.
- Ipswich art Gallery – This gallery features an ever-changing gallery of visual arts and social history. Much of the artwork also tells the history of the area, highlighting many of the heritage sites in the city.
Caloundra is best known for its string of beaches near Brisbane that are perfect for soaking up the sun and surfing.
The town is found at the southernmost tips of the Sunshine Coast. The area was originally settled by Europeans in 1846 under the name of Point Wickham. It was first documented as being called Caloundra and is found on a map from 1892.
Caloundra can be reached by taking an hour’s drive down the sunshine coast from Brisbane. Or you can take the train for two-and-a-half hours, or a bus for two hours.
Caloundra is also known for having some of the great pet-friendly accommodations on the Sunshine Coast in case you are planning to bring your loved ones.
Some of the best beaches to surf in Caloundra are:
- Golden beach
- Bulcock beach
- Kings beach
- Shelly beach
- Moffat Beach
If surfing isn’t your thing, make sure to check out the Queensland Air Museum. Here you can explore over seventy-five restored and maintained aircraft displays from Australia’s history.
Boonah is a picturesque town near the McPherson Mountain range and Fassifern Valley. In its early years, the settlement was stocked with sheep before it was found to be better suited for cattle.
Locally Boonah is now known for its beef and dairy herds. Visitors enjoy learning about the town’s history, exploring the outdoors, and sampling the local fare.
Getting to Boonah is a quick drive of only an hour from Brisbane if you have your own vehicle. If you need to catch a ride there is a train and a bus that will get you there safely in about an hour and a half.
Some of the best things to do/see in Boonah are:
- Mount French National Park – This national park hosts two short tracks (trails) both of them taking less than thirty minutes to walk. What’s nice is some parts of the track are wheelchair accessible.
- Boonah Memorial Park – This is the perfect park to take a stroll through during a sunny afternoon. The park was established in 1920 and honors those from Boonah who served during World War I.
- Bunjurgen Estate Vineyard and Winery – Take a tour of this old-style vineyard before sampling some of their local vintages.
This coastal town sits right on the shore in the protected Bramble Bay. The area was originally settled in 1844, appearing on a map with the name Cabbage Tree Creek.
It wasn’t until 1975 that it was officially recognized as its own town and officially given the name Shorncliffe.
Shorncliffe is very close to Brisbane, perfect for a morning or afternoon troop. If you have your own vehicle, you can get there in twenty minutes, or you can even take a taxi, but that might be a little expensive.
Getting there by bus will only take you thirty minutes, while a train will take you thirty-five minutes.
Some of the best things to do/see in Shorncliffe are:
- Shorncliffe Jetty – It is highly recommended that you wait until late afternoon to take a walk down this iconic pier. While it is beautiful any time of the day, nothing compares to holding hands with your loved one while you watch the sunset on the horizon.
- Cafe on the Park – Enjoy some of the local flavors at this family-owned and operated cafe. You can sit while you enjoy your snacks or light lunch, or take it on the go while you continue to explore the area.
- Shorncliffe Cliff Walk – This is a gem that even many natives of Brisbane miss. Take a walk past the beach and you can explore the base of the cliffs that give the area its name.
16Queen Mary Falls
This stunning plunge waterfall was formed over thousands of years by the Spring Creek eroding layer upon layer of basalt. The falls are located in the main Range National Park and are part of the McPherson Mountain Range.
When visiting the falls there are toilets, tables, and fireplaces, making it a great place for a family picnic or barbeque. There are also several other waterfalls to visit in the surrounding area, as well as a lot of local wildlife that calls the area home.
It’s best to plan an entire day for a trip to Queen Mary Falls. It takes about two hours to get there from Brisbane by personal vehicle.
If you are reliant on public transportation, you can take the bus or the train, which will take between two hours and forty-five minutes to three hours depending on how long they have to spend at other stops.
Other waterfalls to see during your trip to Queen Mary Falls are:
- Teviot Falls
- Daggs Falls
- Browns Falls
- Upper Browns Falls
This rural town is the perfect snapshot of small-town life in Australia, built around stunning views that allow you to see for miles and miles.
Settlers arrived in the area in 1873 and used the area’s red cedar trees to build their first homes and businesses, some of which are still standing to this very day.
Mount Mee is only an hour’s trip from Brisbane, whether you are taking the bus, train, or driving yourself.
Some of the best things to do/see on Mount Mee are:
- Ocean View Estate Winery – Just like the name says, when you look out over this winey’s fields, the ocean in the background almost looks like a painting. You can sample the winery’s vintages and enjoy a light lunch after taking a quick tour of the wine-making process.
- Pit Stop Cafe – If you are looking for something a little heavier, the Pit Stop Cafe is for you. This purposefully odd building is made of corrugated steel and boasts stunning views of the surrounding area.You can sit outside at a table made out of tires while enjoying a hot breakfast or a juicy hamburger. While there, make sure to check out inside, which is decorated with motorcycle memorabilia, some of it dating back to the 1930s.
- Dahmongah Lookout Park – This tiny hamlet boasts the absolute best views in the area. From the wooden lookout, you can see the Glass House Mountains to the north, the sea to the east, and Brisbane rising in the south.
The city of Toowoomba is most famous for the annual Carnival of Flowers that is held every year in September.
The festival draws visitors from all over Australia and the world and celebrates much of the area’s history. One of the most popular ways for guests to arrive is by antique steam or diesel train.
There are three ways to get to Toowoomba from Brisbane, with a drive-by car taking you only an hour and a half.
You can also take the bus, which will take you about fifteen minutes longer. If there’s no rush and you are looking to convert a day trip to Toowoomba into a multi-day trip, the train offers a scenic view but takes four hours to get there.
There is also a private shuttle bus from Brisbane Airport to Toowoomba.
Some of the best things to see/do in Toowoomba are:
- Cobb & Co Museum – Take a step back in time to learn about horse-drawn carriages and steam trains from the area with interactive displays. You can also learn about silversmithing, millinery, whip plaiting, and blacksmithing.
- Queens Park – This 26.3-hectare park is located right in the center of Toowoomba. Many of the trees planted in the park were imported from Europe and Asia, and have grown to offer many shady spots for the family to enjoy an afternoon picnic. There are also several playgrounds for the kids to enjoy.
- Darling Downs Zoo – This zoo is home to exotic species from Australia, Asia, Africa, and South America. It is also home to the only pride of lions in all of Queensland. The zoo also specializes in captive breeding, trying to help protect endangered species from becoming extinct.
13Lamington National Park
This park is located in Southeast Queensland and is known for its ancient Gondwana rainforests. It is also home to the rare Albert’s Lyrebird, a shy songbird that you’re more likely to hear than to see.
Lamington National Park will take you three hours to get there by train and two hours to get there if you’re driving a personal vehicle.
Some of the best things to see/do in Lamington National Park are:
- Hiking – There are several hiking trails throughout the green mountains region. These trails range in difficulty and allow you to see local wildlife in their wild habitat.
- O’reilly’s Campground – Enjoy some rustic, remote bush camping at O’reilly’s Campground. You’ll need to bring your own gear, and be prepared to hike out everything that you hike in. But, if you enjoy roughing it, this is the campground for you.
- Sarabah Estate Vineyard – This local winery offers light fare lunch and dinner, tours, and samples of their sell-grown vintages. Drink in the area’s natural beauty while you sip on some wine and enjoy a cheese platter.
Mount Tamborine derives its name from the Yugambeh language, the tribe that originally settled the area. Tamborine means ‘wild lime’ and is named because of the Finger lime trees that are native to the area.
There are no buses that run from Brisbane to Mount Tamborine, but you can get there in just one hour driving your personal vehicle. If you don’t have a car, you can get there by train in just an hour and a half.
Some of the best things to see/do on Mount Tamborine are:
- Hot-Air Balloon Scenic Rim – Check out 360-degree views of the beautiful landscape that stretches all the way out to the sea. Take a hot-air balloon ride to fly with the birds and capture some amazing memories you’ll never want to forget.
- Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk – Take a walk among the treetops on this guided steel pathway. As you walk the path lowers, allowing you to experience the lower canopy and rock pools before ending at a cantilever. The cantilever hangs thirty meters over the valley, letting you see uninterrupted for miles.
- Cedar Creek Winery – Like most of the area’s wineries you can sample their local vintages with some light snacks. What makes Cedar Creek Winery different is you can explore the nearby caves and learn all about the glow worms that call it home. It’s said that looking up at the ceiling full of glow worms is like looking up at a sky full of stars at night.
The Australian Zoo was founded by Bob and Lyn Irwin, parents of the crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin. His family remains heavily involved with the zoo, keeping his legacy and mission of protecting and conserving wildlife alive.
Getting to the zoo from Brisbane will take you just one hour of driving yourself. The train will take you about two-and-a-half hours, and the bus will take three hours because of stops along the way.
Some of the best things to do/see at the Australia Zoo are:
- Animal Encounters – Get up close and personal with one animal of your choosing. Whether it’s walking with a tiger, playing with a red panda, having a red eagle perch on your arm, or hugging a rhino, touching these animals will help you know them that much better.
- Zookeeper for a day – Learn everything it takes to be a zookeeper for a day. How to prepare the original foods, how to enrich the environments and experiences of the animals, and how the animals are safely fed. These experiences are there for you, before relaxing and recharging your batteries with lunch.
- Conservation Shows – Learn about the Zoos conservation goals and the efforts made to protect tortoises, parrots, koalas, birds of prey, and more.
10Springbrook National Park
This protected national park is located on Australia’s Gold Coast. It is one of the Q150 icons, which is an official list of cultural icons compiled by the Queensland Government.
The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including some species that were close to being placed on the endangered species list, but have since rebounded because of the protections they now enjoy.
A trip to Springbrook National Park will take you about an hour and a half by car from Brisbane.
If you are taking the train, it will take you an hour and forty-five minutes, while the bus has more stops on the way, so it will take about two hours and fifteen minutes to get there.
Some of the best things to see/do in Springbrook National Park are:
- The Natural Bridge – This naturally formed rock arch spans across the cave creek. It was formed by the nearby waterfall over years and years, with the impact of the water carving out the rock below.
- Hiking – With trails ranging in length from 300 meters to 54km, no matter your skill level there is a trail you will enjoy.
- Horseback riding – There are specific trails in the Numinbah section of Springbrook that allow horseback riding. This is a unique way to experience the beautiful surroundings while keeping your heels from getting sore.
This coastal town sits right on the Australian Sunshine Coast. The area originally developed its wealth from the timber and milling industries. It later became a popular tourist destination in 1803.
The area experienced a slight dip in popularity during World War II, when some of the areas were converted to protect the Australian coast. Its popularity surged after the war and it remains a popular destination to this day.
Getting to Noosa Heads from Brisbane will take about an hour and a half when driving. The bus will get you there in just over three hours and the train will take three and a half because of several stops along the way. Check out this guide if you are looking for luxury accommodations in Noosa.
Some of the best things to see/do in Noosa Heads are:
- Rainbow Beach Kayaking with Dolphins and Beach Tour – The bottlenose dolphins that call the area home will swim right up to your kayak as you paddle around the protected bay.
- Surfing – This is one of the major tourist attractions, aside from its beautiful beaches. Every year people from all over the world take part in the Noosa Festival of Surfing.
- Noosa Farmers Market – This market is open every Sunday from 7am until noon. Visitors and locals enjoy browsing the stalls that offer everything from flowers, to jams, to natural skincare products and much, much more.
8North Stradbroke Island
This island is locally referred to as Straddie, or North Straddie, after having been separated from South Stradbroke Island. It lies in the protected Moreton Bay and is the second-largest sand island in the world.
For the past sixty years, the area’s major industries have been sand mining and tourism. This beautiful island is dotted with beaches and lakes for visitors to explore and enjoy.
There are only two ways to get from Brisbane to North Stradbroke Island. If you want to take your own vehicle, it will take about an hour and a half, but you’ll have to pay for the vehicle ferry.
It’s very important to do your research, as depending on the time of day and season the ferry can cost between $60-100 dollars.
If that’s a little rich for your blood, there is also the train, which will take about three hours and drop you off at the passenger ferry. The passenger ferry will only cost you $10 dollars to get to the island.
Some of the best things to do/see on North Stradbroke Island are:
- Cylinder Beach – This beach is found on the island’s most easterly point. What sets it apart from the other beaches on the island is the high vantage points that allow you to look out over the ocean. Between the months of June through November, it is possible to witness the migration of whales from the vantage points.
- Scuba Diving – The water around North Stradbroke Island is amazingly clear, with visibility from 15 to 20 meters on average. During a dive, you will come face to face with Manta rays, Leopard Sharks, Turtles, and more.
- Brown Lake – While the color may seem a little odd at first, Brown lake gets its name and color from the nearby tea trees. It is the perfect spot for a relaxing swim followed by an afternoon Bar-B-Que.
This is the smallest and northernmost island off of Brisbane, in Moreton Bay. The name is believed to be the result of a mistake, being pulled from the Aboriginal word ‘Boorabee’ which means koala.
The island is home to the Bribie National Park, which covers nearly a third of the entire island.
Getting to Bribie Island is easier than some of the other islands because of a bridge from the Mainland to the southern tip of the island.
A trip by car will take you about an hour, while the train will take two-and-a-half hours. If you decide to take the bus, be prepared. There are multiple stops and it will take almost three and a half hours to get you there.
Some of the best things to do/see on Bribie Island are:
- Pumicestone Passage – Home of a protected marine park, this passage is a popular location for water sports, including a guided kayak tour and windsurfing. Nature lovers will enjoy bird watching and viewing the sunset on the ocean-filled horizon.
- Bribie Island Seaside Museum – Learn about the History of Bribie Island and the people who shaped it. This museum has displays everything from Matthew Flinders’s encounter at skirmish point to the American Occupation of the Island during World War II.
- Skydive Bribie Island – If you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure, then get ready to take this leap of faith. Riding tandem with a professional skydiver you will plummet towards the earth until they open the parachute, allowing you to enjoy unobstructed views of the entire area as you float safely down to the ground below.
6Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
This heritage-listed zoological garden was originally built in 1947. The sanctuary is world-famous for its feeding of large flocks of Rainbow Lorikeets, a colorful species of parrot.
It also has a state-of-the-art veterinary and rehabilitation hospital for the animals that call the sanctuary home.
There are three ways to get from Brisbane to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. You can spend an hour driving yourself, or spend 2 to two-and-a-half hours on the bus and train, respectively.
Some of the best things to see/do at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary are:
- Koala Experience – Learn all about Australia’s most iconic animal, everything from their habitat, reproduction, diet, and more. At the end of your experience, you will get to hold one of these fluffy little bears and have your picture taken to save the memory for a lifetime.
- Feed A Crocodile – If you like a little more danger in your wildlife experiences this is for you. Get ready to feed a five-meter (over 16 foot) long saltwater crocodile. A professional photographer will also capture the moment when you are feeding the crocodile for you to take home.
- Dingo Walk – If you’re looking for something a little more calming, a pleasant walk with the Dingo pack might be right up your lane. Let the pack of three dingos show you some of their favorite spots across the twenty-seven-hectare sanctuary.
If you feel exhausted after a big day at the wildlife sanctuary, you could even call it a day and spend the night at the very calm and beautiful town on Coolangatta.
It is just 10 mins further drive and is known for some very good accommodation and dining options.
5Glass House Mountains
This cluster of thirteen hills rises right out of Australia’s Sunshine Coast. The highest, Mount Beerwah rises five hundred and fifty-six meters above sea level.
But, the most famous hill is actually Mount Tibrogargan because of the wind-carved angles that make it look like a face looking back at you. The hills were named in 1770 by Lieutenant James Cook, because of their peaks reminded him of glass furnaces.
There are only two viable options to get to the Glass House Mountains from Brisbane, by personal vehicle or by train. Both options will only take you about an hour to get there.
Some of the best things to do/see in the Glass House Mountains are:
- Maleny Botanic Garden – Enjoy 6 kilometers of walking tracks, or if your feet hurt, hire a golf cart to drive you around. The Botanical gardens have several magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. They are also home to over 700 exotic birds that are as happy to meet you as you are to meet them.
- Glass House Mountains Lookout – There are many vantage points scattered throughout the Glass House Mountains, but this just might be the best. You can drive right up to the vantage point and enjoy an unobstructed view of the surrounding hills in every direction.
- Antique and Vintage – Located in the town of Maleny, right in the middle of the Glass Mountains Range, is this small shop. Full of local antiques that really give you a feeling of what life was like for people in the area, for modest prices you can take home a piece of the Glass House Mountains.
Mount Nebo and the surrounding area were originally settled in 1919 by soldiers returning from World War I. The mountain itself is part of the D’Aguilar mountain range.
The area is sparsely populated, with less than five hundred people being counted amongst the population. This makes it one of the best places near Brisbane to get away from the more popular day tour locations for a relaxing experience with the family.
Mount Nebo is a very short distance from Brisbane, only taking about thirty minutes by car. There is also a bus that will get you there in forty-five minutes and a train that takes an hour.
Some of the best things to do on Mount Nebo are:
- Queensland Wildlife Centre – This wildlife center boasts native birds, reptiles, fish, mammals, and amphibians. The center works to help preserve these animals’ natural environment while promoting healthy interactions with visiting humans.
- Swimming Holes – The area around Mount Nebo is dotted with some of the best freshwater swimming spots. These spots boast crystal clear water, varying depths, and local wildlife that use the spots for drinking water.
- Bellbird Grove – This large picnic area has a gas Bar-B-Ques and access to two nearby walking tracks. Bellbird Grove is perfect for an afternoon with the family. Be careful though, the tracks have some steep spots where young kids might need help to navigate safely.
This coastal town is a popular holiday for local and international travelers. The area was discovered by Lieutenant James Cook when he found a safe anchorage in 1770.
The area’s first industry was timber, but its unique industry was gold mining, on the beaches in the 1870s. Byron Bay is the perfect day out for everyone in the family, with scenic overlooks, gorgeous beaches, and a local farmers market.
There is no train from Brisbane to Byron Bay, but the bus can get you there safely in about three and a half hours. If you have your own car, it will only take you two hours to get to Byron Bay.
Some of the best things to do and see in Byron Bay are:
- Cape Byron Lighthouse – This lighthouse is located on the most eastern point of the Australian Mainland. There are several tracks to explore around the lighthouse and amazing views across the ocean to drink in.
- Surfing – Since the 1960s Byron Bay has been known for its surfing. There are several schools for people who have never surfed before or rookies looking to improve their skills. The different beaches in the area have different levels of surf, so no matter your skill, there are waves ready for you to ride.
- Local Farmers Market – Byron Bay is also known for its fantastic tasting local produce and crafty bohemian vibes. On Thursdays, the Farmer’s market boasts fresh food, but on Sundays, it focuses on local vendors and their creative productions.
This coastal town on the Sunshine Coast got its name from the aboriginal word ‘Mulu,’ meaning snapper fish. The name was officially changed to Mooloolaba in 1919 when the land was divided and put up for sale.
A fun fact about Mooloolaba is that it was featured on the fourth season of the television series “The Amazing Race.”
Getting to Mooloolaba from Brisbane will take you about an hour if you have your own car. There is also the bus which takes about an hour and twenty minutes, or the train that will take two hours to get you there.
Some of the best things to do/see in Mooloolaba are:
- Swim with Humpback Whales – For some people, watching whales from land or boat just isn’t close enough. Now you can actually get in the water and swim right alongside these gentle giants. Day tours to swim with the Whales start in June, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly.
- Sunshine Castle – This is Australia’s biggest castle, full of medieval displays that teach about the area’s history. Kids will enjoy a treasure hunt, dressing up in medieval garb, and exploring the moat, towers, and drawbridge.
- Aussie World – This family-focused theme park has over thirty rides that the kids will enjoy. Everything from the classic Ferris Wheel to the adrenaline-pumping rides. There is also a pub on-site to sate your thirst, or hunger with a large menu to satisfy the pickiest of eaters.
Fraser Island holds the title of the world’s largest sand island. It’s important to note that when locals refer to Fraser Island, they are also referring to several other smaller islands (slain, tooth, roundbush, moonboom, gardener, dream, stewart and reef).
Fraser Island is a favorite for four-wheel-drive enthusiasts because of the sandy beaches and dunes that are ready to be conquered.
Because of the distance, many people end up spending more than one day on Fraser Island. From Brisbane, it will take between eight and twelve hours depending on if you are driving, taking the bus, or the train.
It’s also important to note that crossing a vehicle on the ferry to Fraser Island can cost between $190-285 round trip. But, if you are crossing as a passenger it will cost $60 per adult and $30 for children.
Some of the best things to do/see on Fraser Island are:
- Seventy-Five Mile Beach – This is one of the unique drives you can experience. Drive a four-wheel-drive vehicle up and down seventy-five miles of sandy beach. Some popular stops along the way are the Maheno Shipwreck, the multicolored Pinnacles Cliffs, and the Champagne pools.
- Eli Creek – This is a popular picnic and swimming spot found along a seventy-five-mile beach. This creek pours a ton of fresh water into the ocean every hour, creating a nice current to float along. Jungle Perch (a fish), Eels, and frogs call the creek home.
- Central Station – This used to be the center for logging operations on the island. But now marks the starting point of a 7-kilometer walk along with Wanggoolba Creek. Explore the rainforest with native trees and wildlife all around you.
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